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From epidemiology and health surveillance studies to organizational culture evaluations—ORAU's worker health studies research focuses on workplace hazards and the occupational health and safety of workers. The foundation of our expertise stems from more than 50 years of collecting, managing and analyzing occupational data on current and former workers—many of whom supported U.S. Department of Energy missions that date back to the Manhattan Project (WWII 1940s).

If you are interested in conducting research that involves the study of worker populations and workplace exposures, we can match you with our worker health and epidemiology experts for a deeper dive into research that aims to answer important questions about how exposures or other factors contribute to the development of diseases, including cancer.

Our experts can draw on the extensive databases of radiation worker dosimetry records. The Worker Health Data Center represents a number of worker health databases that facilitate analyses of health and safety trends, including radiation exposure data, for employees and contractors of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other agencies. ORAU has also been significantly engaged in low-dose radiation research, including the Million Person Study for the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements.

Research focus areas

  • Beryllium LPTs/worker registry
  • Epidemiology/exposure risk assessments
  • Safety culture assessments
  • Total exposure health
  • Organizational culture assessments
  • Impact of opioid abuse on the workforce
  • Risk assessment models

Peer-reviewed publications and citations

ORAU researchers author a variety of peer-reviewed publications covering diverse worker health issues. The lists below spotlights some of our work (ORAU researchers names are in bold):

  • Worker performing safety inspection

    ORAU develops a new theoretical model for nuclear security culture

    Jeff Miller, Ph.D., C.I.H., C.S.P., along with ORAU health communications expert Julie Crumly, Ph.D., spent months brainstorming the possibility of a new security culture model that could be applied to nuclear facilities and help explain why some organizations are more successful than others at protecting our nation’s nuclear assets.

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  • Caution - Radioactive Materials sign

    30,000 nuclear workers surveyed on safety cultures in their workplaces

    ORAU has performed periodic, comprehensive evaluations of nuclear industry workforces and practices in an effort to monitor and continuously improve safety culture.

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  • Historical photo of energy workers

    Assessing radiation exposures for energy workers

    Since its inception in 2002, the NIOSH Radiation Dose Reconstruction Program has yielded thousands of claims successfully processed for workers’ compensation.

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Our Experts

Donna Cragle

Donna Cragle, Ph.D.

Expertise: Occupational epidemiology, design and implementation of large-scale worker health studies and programs, manages a program of more than 200 experts and professionals

  • Adjunct faculty, University of Tennessee
  • Lead epidemiologist/founder of beryllium lymphocyte proliferation testing at ORAU
  • Management advisor, ORAU Team providing dose reconstructions to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act
  • Director, National Supplemental Screening Program providing media screening to former U.S. Department of Energy workers nationwide
  • Lead epidemiologist, medical screening program for residents affected by TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash spill
Jeff Miller

Jeffrey R. Miller, Ph.D.

Expertise: Occupational exposure assessment, safety culture evaluation, chronic beryllium disease worker protection programs

  • Chair, American Board of Industrial Hygiene, 2017-2018
  • Keynote speaker, International Symposium on Beryllium Particles and Detection, November 2017
  • Co-author, “Guide to Monitoring and Improving Safety Cultures,” Energy Facilities Contractors Group, April 2017
  • Team member, design team for $6.5B Uranium Processing Facility Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • Presenter, American Industrial Hygiene Association, Fall Leadership Conference, October 2017
  • 14 years of senior leadership experience; six years as a CEO

Certifications: Certified Industrial Hygienist, Certified Safety Professional®

Ashley Golden

Ashley Golden, Ph.D.

Expertise: Biostatistics, epidemiology, radiation exposure, occupational health

  • Awardee: Early Stage Radiation Investigator Award, Conference on Radiation and Health and Radiation Research Society, October 2016
  • Presenter, International Symposium on Epidemiology in Occupational Health, Edinburgh, Scotland, August 2017
  • Presenter, Health Physics Society Annual Meeting, July 2017
  • Presenter, American Public Health Association, November 2016
  • Reviewer, Health Physics Journal, NCRP technical reports, and PLOS One Journal
Davyda Hammond

Davyda Hammond, Ph.D.

Expertise: Safety culture evaluation, environmental health engineering, qualitative data analysis, statistical analysis, survey administration and evaluation design, project management

Hammond has a wide-array of experience in the design, planning, and execution of nuclear safety culture evaluations for DOE contractors, national laboratories, and commercial customers. She has a doctorate in Environmental Health Engineering, with expertise in both engineering and public health. Her areas of research interest and emphasis include environmental and worker health, research methods, risk assessment, health education, energy systems, and mechanical design. She has 15 years of health and safety research, project management, and engineering experience obtained through her work in industry, academia, and Federal service. She has presented her research at multiple national and international conferences and in several scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.

Betsy Ellis

Betsy Ellis, Ph.D.

Expertise: Occupational epidemiology, radiation epidemiology, ethics of use of human participants in research

  • Member, Task Group 64 Cancer Risk from Alpha Radiation, International Commission on Radiological Protection
  • Chair, Oak Ridge Side-Wide Institutional Review Board
  • Vice Chair, Central DOE Institutional Review Board
  • Presenter, Health Physics Society Annual Meeting, July 2017
  • Presenter, Radiation Research Society Meeting, October 2016
Sara Howard, M.P.H.

Sara Howard, M.P.H.

Expertise: Epidemiology, biostatistics, occupational health, quantitative and qualitative data analysis

Howard has experience in both quantitative and qualitative data analysis for studies. Her areas of expertise include occupational and environmental exposures and safety culture assessments. Her academic training encompasses public health, epidemiology, and biostatistics.

Contact us

If you have questions about ORAU's Research partnerships, contact 865.576.1717 or .